As you may have guessed from the title, in this lesson we’ll talk about the word BASTA, which is used in many situations and often with different nuances. You’ve definitely heard it used in some situations, but probably you wouldn’t know how to use it properly in certain contexts. Well, that’s why we’re here: we’ll teach you the meaning of this word and then we’ll show you many examples that will help you to learn all the different uses of BASTA.
How and when to use BASTA in Italian
What does it mean?
Let’s start with the basics: have you ever wondered what does the word “basta” really mean? If we analyse it well we’ll notice that it’s simply the third person singular of the verb “bastare” at the present indicative, and it means “to be enough”, “to be sufficient”.
In particular, we use it as an impersonal form (without a subject), to indicate that something needs to stop or that we’ve had enough of that particular thing.
The exclamation BASTA!
The first use of BASTA is on its own as an exclamation. Often, when we are really annoyed, we tend to shout it. If it’s used on its own, it means that a certain situation needs to stop, because we’re tired of it and we’ve had enough. It emphasizes the idea of exasperation.
Let’s see some examples.
In a room full of screaming kids, the teacher tries to get some silence. After a few failed attempts she shouts at the tops of her lungs: “BASTA!” (STOP)
All of a sudden the kids go quiet and look at her with their mouths open.
Here for example we might need to shout it.
In this case, we can use “basta” followed by adverbs like ORA o ADESSO (now), to underline that it’s right at this moment that we realized that we’ve had enough of this situation and that it has to stop.
A couple is arguing for the hundredth time: she holds it against him because he cheated on her in the past, he reproaches her because she didn’t bring this up before. They argue for a while, she’s losing her temper and she shouts: “Adesso basta! Me ne vado”(That’s enough! I’m leaving). She walks out of the room slamming the door.
In this case, she’s saying that she wants that situation (and probably also the relationship) to end right at that moment.
BASTA when we’d like something to end
BASTA expresses the idea that something needs to end because we can’t take it anymore, but it can take on a more specific meaning to indicate that a precise action or thing needs to stop. In this case, it’s followed by a noun or an infinitive.
It’s been raining for days and the city is completely flooded, many people lost their house and their crops. So someone looks at the sky and screams: “Basta pioggia, per favore!” (Enough rain, please).
During a test at school, the teacher notices that two students keep talking and exchanging their answers. So she reproaches them: “Rossi! Franchi! Basta parlare voi due! Altrimenti vi annullo il compito! (Rossi! Franchi! Stop talking you two! Or else I’ll have to cancel your tests!)
The word “basta”, as you saw in the other examples, is often linked to negative situations where we need to put an end to something. But there are also contexts in which “basta” is used politely, for example when it’s followed by “così”. In this case, it’s mainly used when we are in a store to buy something.
A woman goes to the baker’s and she asks for a loaf of whole-wheat bread, two seed buns and two pieces of focaccia. The baker asks: “Desidera altro?” (Anything else?) and the lady answers: “No grazie, basta così”. (No thank you, that will be all ). Here “basta” means: these things are enough.
In the same way, basta or basta così is used to stop someone who is offering us something, who is pouring us a drink or who is adding food to our plate but we’re good, we don’t want any more of that.
A couple is at the restaurant. The server starts pouring wine into the woman’s glass. She doesn’t drink much, so she says “Basta così, grazie” (That’s enough, thank you) right after, so he moves on to her husband’s drink.
BASTA + verb
We saw earlier that BASTA followed by a verb indicates that a certain situation has to end. But BASTA followed by a verb at the infinitive form can also take on the meaning of “being sufficient”, “being enough”, “to only need to..”. Obviously, we understand the different meanings from the context.
Let’s see some examples:
Maria is lactose intolerant and she hasn’t told her friends yet. They invite her to have dinner at their house and she finds out that they decided to cook a cheese-based dinner. So she takes courage and says: “Ragazzi, scusate se non ve l’ho detto prima, ma ho appena scoperto di essere intollerante al lattosio” (Guys, I’m sorry I didn’t tell you earlier, but I just found out that I’m lactose-intolerant). To which they answer: “Ma figurati, basta dirlo! Abbiamo un sacco di alternative! Non preoccuparti che di sicuro non rimarrai a digiuno!” (Don’t worry, just say so! We have many alternatives! Really, don’t worry you won’t be left without food!) —> that means “you just have to say it and we’ll find a solution“
My friend tastes a piece of the cake I just prepared and she tells me that it’s really good and that she wants to know how I made it. I tell her: “E’ facilissima da preparare! Basta mescolare tutti gli ingredienti insieme e versare il composto nella teglia, quindi infornarla!”. (It’s really easy to make! You just have to mix all the ingredients and pour the mixture into the baking tray and then put it into the oven!)
… (E) BASTA at the end of a list
Often, BASTA is used at the end of a list, or to end a speech or a communication turn. In this case, it can be preceded by the conjunction “e” (and) or by the verb “potere” (can).
Two friends meet after a lot of time, one of them says: “Allora, cosa mi racconti? Novità?” (So, what’s been going on? Any news?) and the other one replies: “Beh sì, mi sono sposato… Con Giulia, ti ricordi? Ecco, poi abbiamo deciso di andare a vivere insieme, e abbiamo preso un cane. E ora lei è incinta. E basta. Tu? Cos’hai combinato in questi due anni?” (Well yes, I got married… with Giulia, do you remember her? Then we decided to go live together and we got a dog. Now she’s pregnant. And that’s it. You? What have you been up to these past two years?)
Mum and Dad are thinking about what to buy their son for Christmas. They decide to get him a new television, a PlayStation and a new scooter. The dad says: “Beh, allora abbiamo deciso: tv, PlayStation e moto. Basta?” (So we decided: a tv, a PlayStation and a scooter. That’s all?) The mum replies: “Sì, dai, direi che può bastare.” (Yes, I think that’s enough)
… E BASTA as a synonim of “solo”
“E basta”, after a verb, can also mean “solo”, “soltanto”, “solamente”, (only) referred to a particular action expressed by that verb.
I’m having lunch at my grandmother’s. As always, she has prepared many delicious dishes as if an entire army had to eat, but instead, I’m the only one there. After lunch, she offers me a giant piece of tiramisù. But I’m completely full, so I tell her “Grazie nonna, ma lo assaggio e basta. Magari mettimelo in un contenitore così lo mangio domani.” (Thank you granny, but I’ll just try some. Maybe put it into a container so I can eat it tomorrow.)
What do you say, basta così? I hope we’ve given you enough examples to learn how to correctly use the word BASTA. And if you missed it, don’t forget to go see our video about when we don’t have to use the article in Italian.